Reduced sugar claims can mislead consumers

By Tom Chandler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sugar Nutrition British sugar

Consumers think 'reduced sugar' always means reduced calories
Consumers think 'reduced sugar' always means reduced calories
New research has revealed that British consumers feel misled by the claim ‘reduced sugar’ .

The report carried out by Leatherhead Food Research (LFR) on behalf of British Sugar said consumers expected food and drink that claimed to have ‘reduced sugar’ to also have reduced calories.

LFR's research claimed this was not always the case, as other carbohydrates often replaced the sugar, leading to a similar calorie content but with less sugar.

Dr Julian Cooper, head of group science at British Sugar, said firms making a ‘reduced sugar’ claim, needed to make a “significant” ​change to their products, informing consumers of the calorie content

New health claims

“We are always concerned about new health claims. Often, ‘15% reduced sugar’ claims are made and the consumer is misled into thinking an item is now healthier.

“Shoppers expect and I expect that these claims are true. But they are now bombarded by health claims, which are simply not true.

“We are very mindful of food labelling, but people can misunderstand what a label's claim actually means. ... I think more honesty would not go amiss.”

A spokesman for lobbying body Sustain also criticised the labelling: “Sugar, along with many other ingredients, is misunderstood by consumers. Reducing certain ingredients and replacing them with another is a problem that needs to be addressed.”

The research also showed that consumers are confused about key nutrients calories. The majority correctly identified fat as having the highest calorific content, but a significant number believed sugar had a higher calorific content than alcohol and other carbohydrates.

The news followed European Commission proposals that will allow reduced sugar claims without labelling calorie reductions.

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